The Gold Coast Titans have completed a remarkable five-game winning streak with a 36-6 victory over a despondent Newcastle Knights lineup.
Having not won back-to-back matches since Round 15, the Knights entered the clash desperate to build momentum for their rapidly-approaching finals campaign.
Their quest did not start positively however as Ashley Taylor nabbed the first try by supporting a break from Treymain Spry.
Aidan Guerra was denied a try in his last regular-season NRL game due to a knock-on before the Bunker took away a try from Edrick Lee as his foot narrowly contacted the touchline.
The Titans made the Knights pay for their errors with Mitch Rein sneaking through some lacklustre marker defence.
Thankfully for Newcastle fans, Adam O’Brien’s side was able to reduce the deficit through an extended run of possession that ended with a try to Edrick Lee.
The try was Lee’s sixth in his injury-affected 2020 campaign.
But the Titans soon pushed the lead back to ten as Treymain Spry and Brian Kelly produced a magical joint-effort with just two minutes remaining in the first period.
— NRL (@NRL) September 25, 2020
The Titans has 18% more possession than the Knights through forty minutes, with Newcastle completing at under 70%.
While most of the Titans’ first-half points came from plays originating in the attacking twenty-metre zone, the second period saw a barrage of long-range efforts.
AJ Brimson was the first to cross in the fiftieth minute, receiving a pass from Treymain Spry and beating several Knights defenders in an eighty-metre run.
This was followed by another near length-of-the-field try from Ashley Taylor, who benefitted from a Brian Kelly line-break to score his second of the night.
Seven minutes later, Brimson completed a double of his own through a spectacular solo effort that saw him beat four Newcastle defenders.
It was the fourth try that the Titans’ new fullback has scored in a sensational two-week stretch.
— NRL (@NRL) September 25, 2020
By the time Kevin Proctor crossed off the back of yet another long-range play, the fat lady was well and truly singing.
Proctor’s try gave his side an unassailable thirty point lead, which they would hold until full-time.
Titans’ coach Justin Holbrook described his side’s finish to the season as simply ‘awesome’ and stated that if given the choice, he wouldn’t want this season to end after the Titans’ remarkable late-season run.
“We all know we’ve been playing well of late, but to come out and do that tonight is just fantastic and a great way to end the year”, he said.
For Newcastle, Adam O’Brien believes that tonight’s performance was alarming and reminiscent of too many of the Knights’ performances of late.
“(The result was) not ideal leading into the finals, definitely… we need to move on from that really quickly, because that performance ain’t going to help us next week”, he stated.
With the result, the Titans are guaranteed to finish in ninth place, while Newcastle will be left to pick up the pieces before their elimination final against South Sydney at ANZ Stadium next week.
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3 Points – AJ Brimson – If Brimson is able to maintain his late-season form into 2021, then the Titans’ fullback will most definitely be a front-runner for the Dally M Medal next season.
He was seemingly involved in everything for the Titans tonight, chiming in with two tries and several dangerous runs.
There’s little doubt that Brimson will be heavily involved for the Maroons come November.
2 Points – Brian Kelly – Kelly made a triumphant return to the side this weekend and has cemented his spot in Holbrook’s lineup for 2021.
He had two try-assists and three line-breaks in a scintillating display that peaked with his sensational try in the first half.
1 Point – Ashley Taylor – Taylor’s form has been up-and-down in 2020, but he has ended the season on a very bright note with two tries tonight.
His combination with Jamal Fogerty will be fundamental in determining the success of the Titans’ 2021 campaign.